Follow me on Twitter @ToddCordell
The twins behind @EvolvingWild recently released contract predictions for pending free agent skaters
, which are based on production, deals comparable players previously signed, etc.
While they're obviously not going to be on the mark with each player, I think these projections will serve as a pretty good baseline for what to expect in many cases.
The Calgary Flames have a handful of players in need of new deals, and not much else is happening right now, so I thought it'd be fun to look at the projections for each player and share my thoughts.
Note: EW doesn't project goaltenders which, well...fair.
LW – Matthew Tkachuk
Six years, $7.98 million per
I think Tkachuk's contract is going to end up being seven or eight years but, otherwise, I agree with this prediction. Tkachuk just recorded 34 goals and 77 points while driving possession and providing elite defensive play at 5v5. He is already one of the more well-rounded players in the league, and players are starting to get what they're worth well before UFA years. Tkachuk is going to comfortably blow past the previous internal ceiling set by Mark Giordano and Johnny Gaudreau. There's no other way around it. I expect him to cost $7.5-8 million annually, and I have zero issue with that. Pay your stars, and find a way to go cheaper around the edges.
LW – Sam Bennett
Three years, $2.847 million per
The money seems a tad high on first glance but it's not entirely unreasonable. He is hardly a consistent offensive force. He will chip in, though, and he provides a nice mix of speed and physicality to any line he is on. I wouldn't be shocked if he is traded this summer. Should the Flames keep him around, I think this is the kind of deal we could expect. If the two sides agree to a two-year bridge, he might be a little cheaper – that's important given the team's cap situation.
RW – Garnet Hathaway
Three years, $1.355 million per
Remember when I said pay your stars and go cheap around the edges? If Hathaway is going to command a contract like that, he is the kind of player you sacrifice and replace cheaper. He actually had a strong season on the 4th line, although he was more of a passenger to Derek Ryan and Andrew Mangiapane than a driver of the success. He is a good forechecker and works hard but he is a possession anchor and he's not going to produce much offense. In the past, the Flames gave too much money, term, and opportunity, to gritty depth players like Lance Bouma. They can't make that mistake again. Committing a lot to 4th liners is how you get yourself into trouble. Cut the cord.
D – Oscar Fantenberg
One year, $944K
He nicely complimented Rasmus Andersson on the 3rd pairing and, in a vacuum, would be a pretty nice guy to have around on a cheap, one-year deal. In saying that, the Flames are *loaded* with blueliners – they already have eight or nine NHLers, depending on how good Alex Yelesin is – so there doesn't look to be any room for him. He'd be able to find a bit more money, and a bigger role, elsewhere.
W – Andrew Mangiapane
Two years, $925K per
Mangiapane is a blessing to the Flames and their cap situation. He proved in the 2nd half of the season he's ready to be, at the very least, a solid bottom-6 contributor. Given his relatively small body of work, he's going to have to sign a very cheap 'welcome to the NHL' contract, such as the one suggested above. I expect him to take another step forward while playing a bigger role next season, and heading into 2020-21 I think he'll very clearly be way underpaid. If possible, I think the Flames would be smart to try and tack on an extra year or two at a slightly higher price so they can really milk the value.
W – Curtis Lazar
One year, $879K
The trade with Ottawa was a bad bet at the time, and it somehow looks even worse now. I have no problem with keeping him around for Stockton but the ship has sailed on his career with the big club.
D – Dalton Prout
One year, $723K
The Flames liked his edge and I'm sure he was a great guy to have around in the locker room. He is a very limited player, though, and the Flames have 300 defenders under contract who are as good or better. If they wanted even more depth there, spend a couple extra bucks and keep Fantenberg around.
On the signing of Carl-Johan Lerby
Examining potential backup options for the Flames
On Tkachuk's next contract and a bit of a cap crunch
The Flames should listen to offers for T.J. Brodie
Flames sign Alexander Yelesin
Mark Giordano named a Norris finalist
Flames sign Artyom Zagidulin
Flames among those targeting Joakim Nygard
On the Jason Zucker trade that almost was